Terry Collins saw no reason for the first-place Mets -- or anyone else -- to believe a four-game sweep of the Rockies should be tempered by Colorado's last-place standing. It was the same opponent, he reasoned, that had beaten the second-place Nationals twice in a three-game series last weekend.
"We said, 'Hey, look, we better get ready because they're playing real well right now,' " Collins said.
So the Mets, whose bats have gone viral in recent weeks, capped the sweep Thursday with a 12-3 victory for Noah Syndergaard (7-6). The rookie starter gave up homers to DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado in the first inning, but the Mets came back with three runs in their first at-bat. And that was merely the beginning.
"It's just great. The offense puts up 12 runs a game," Syndergaard said. Not every game, but point taken. Because his teammates were scoring, "it took a little pressure off me."
The Mets, 11 games over .500 for the first time since June 27, 2010, are 41/2 games ahead of the Nationals and show no signs of slowing down. In the last 14 days, the Mets have gone 11-2 to the Nationals' 4-10 and have picked up 71/2 games on them.
"We realize we're in a race and it's got a chance to be what we determine it to be," Collins said. "If we play bad, we're not going to get it done. If we continue to play well, it's going to be really fun the last six weeks."
The Mets own a host of juicy stats, led by the fact that, beginning with a 15-2 win over the Dodgers on July 25, they have scored more runs (101) than any other team in the league. They are 14-4 since then and averaging 5.6 runs per game, up from 3.4. Their three homers Thursday gave them 31 in the last 17 games.
Pinch hitter Juan Lagares' three-run homer in the eighth seemed to epitomize what Collins was saying about the different-guy-every-day approach he wants his players to take. "When they come in the ballpark, they want to win," he said, "and they get themselves ready to do that."
Kelly Johnson had his best game since his acquisition from the Braves with a homer, two doubles and three RBIs. "[My] first day in, we scored 15 [against the Dodgers], so I haven't seen it too bad," he said of the Mets' offense. "But I know that just from hearing guys talk, things have been said about the way the team was rolling. It was leaning heavy on the pitching . . . "
Curtis Granderson had a two-run homer and drove in three runs. Yoenis Cespedes had two hits, as did rookie Michael Conforto, who scored three runs. Juan Uribe and Daniel Murphy each had a run-scoring double.
"You guys said we couldn't hit," Murphy said, tweaking the media. "It's just good at-bats up and down the lineup.''
Lagares, thought to have been cast aside with the acquisition of Cespedes, has not sulked. "Even if I don't play, I have to keep working because you never know," he said. "Today I think is the perfect day to see that. I didn't start the game and I had the opportunity and I got that homer right there, so you have to be ready for everything."
Michael Cuddyer, who has emerged as the de facto spokesman during David Wright's absence, said no one person is responsible for the team's recent success. "As much as we'd like to think so, baseball's not a game where one guy can be a savior," he said. "One guy can jump-start things, there's no question about that, but the guys in this clubhouse have also picked it up."